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The Importance of an Employment Handbook

In Michigan, there are many different documents that can outline the respective responsibilities of an employer and an employee. An employee handbook is fundamental as it provides standardization of personnel and benefit policies and prevents misunderstandings, complaints and job dissatisfaction out of misinterpretation of personnel and benefit policies by employees. Many employers make the mistake of not having an employment handbook or formal employment policies established. This can lead to misinformation, misunderstandings, and liability when procedures and or policies are not enforced in a uniform manner.

An employment handbook is an excellent tool for employers to document their expectations of employees and to avoid confusion about what can happen in various employment situations. Your employment handbook should contain important information on your business’ policies and procedures and outline the important information that employees would need to know about their workplace.

Some of the many benefits of having an employment handbook include:

  1. Legal Protection. The most vital benefit of having an employee handbook is that it often protects companies from employees’ legal claims.

  2. Time. Documented rules and procedures in the handbook save you, your office managers, or HR Department time from explaining the same polices over to new employees joining and to others who seek clarification regarding work rules.

  3. Uniformity. It explains expectations for everyone and mentions the consequences of violating these rules. By explaining workplace ethics and expected behavior with colleagues and the management, an employee handbook minimizes workplace disputes.

  4. Compliance. It helps your business in complying with federal as well as state employment laws and can be a beneficial legal defense against an employee lawsuit.

  5. Policies. It helps your company clearly describe its position with regard to discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. It can also provide information on how to report any suspected violations, including timelines for reporting and manner and method by which reports are to be made.

  6. Status. It provides the status of each worker’s employment status, i.e., “at-will” or “just cause.”

If your business does not have a written employment handbook, you should contact an experienced employment attorney to draft and customize an employment handbook that is relevant to your industry. Once you have an employment handbook, every few years you should have your employment attorney review the handbook to make sure that the policies, procedures, and definitions within the handbook are up to date with the state and federal laws applicable to your industry. The relatively small cost of having an employment handbook drafted and periodically reviewed is an investment in your business to guard against the potential liability that can be created when an employee files an employment related lawsuit, charge, or complaint.

If you have questions regarding information contained within this article, or if you would like to have an employee handbook drafted or reviewed for your business, please contact Nancy Chinonis, attorney at Cline, Cline & Griffin, PC,, (810) 232-3141.

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